Sunday by the sea

Sunday morning, the only morning when I tend not to set an alarm, yet still I wake at around 4am, my futile attempts at a lie in are appeased by the thought of my first cuppa, while I lazily thumb through the weekend papers or read one of the three books I currently have on the go.

A quick look out of the window and of course it is still dark, the rain covered road and pavements reflecting the lights of the few cars that pass by at this early hour.

Regardless of the weather, I have planned to spend an hour or three by the sea, a little shutter therapy is a welcome Sunday pastime, so make sure my camera bag is ready and batteries charged.

The earlier rain has cleared, but the overcast skies still show some intent, a strong breeze offers plenty of wave movement with the high tide just about to turn.

Dawlish Warren offers so many photo opportunities on days like this, naturally I look to try a couple of long exposures to capture the drama in both clouds and sea.

Setting aside my tripod, I then decide to make my first attempt at the concept known as ICM photography.
ICM or intentional camera movement is where the camera is deliberately moved during exposure time, so an exposure of a second or more is recommended to get the desired effect, the effect essentially being the polar opposite of the sharpness and definition photographers strive for, a blurred ‘arty’ looking image, that implies an image rather than defining it.


I have an ND filter attached to my camera lens, at F5.6 I have an exposure time of just over a second, so begin my experiments in earnest, the first 5 attempts are not brilliant as I try different speeds with the camera movements.
On my 6th attempt, I have something that looks interesting if nothing else but it is a concept I will have more attempts at in the future.


Putting the filters away, my aim is just to stroll to the far end of the Warren and take the footpath around the nature reserve side of the beach, a long slow trudge through the soft sand that is the pathway.

Naturally there are several other people with the same idea of spending some time at the beach, a chance to to do some ‘street’ photography by the sea.


Over the coming days I will go through the days shoot, the shots posted here are my favourites from the day.

In all weathers

In April this year, like many, I was furloughed for a number of weeks, time that I think I used fairly constructively in finally getting around to cataloguing and sorting through a few terabytes photos, a job that had been remained permanently rooted to the bottom of my ‘to do’ list for far too long.

Once the decluttering phase had begun with the photos, it became contagious, books, cd’s and dvd’s found their way into my ‘no longer required’ boxes, ready for when we may once more safely give to charity shops or to the local recycling facility.

Then came the crunch day, when I decided it was time to purge the camera gear that had lain unused for too long, ebay bargains I had intended to sell but used, liked and kept, older models of newer cameras, the classic case of gear acquisition.

I was given plenty of time to evaluate my decision, with only essential shops still open, it would not be until the beginning of August that I was able to trade in at my local camera shop and collect the Lumix G9 I had decided upon.

One of the deciding factors in deciding upon the G9 was the weather proofing, it would give an opportunity to still get out on those wet and windy days, as long as it was paired with a weather sealed lens of course.

It is only in the last couple of weeks that I have acquired the Olympus 17mm 1.2 Pro lens, great not just for being weather sealed but good for low light photography, of which there will be plenty of opportunities with the clocks going back an hour just a week ago.

Having a couple hours free this Saturday morning, rather than making a cup of tea and heading back to bed after hearing the rain against the window, I packed the G9 and headed into town to hopefully get a few moody wet day shots.



It was still a little early to capture people in numbers as they went about their day, however, I did manage to capture a good few reflections and ‘outside looking in’ shots as shops were preparing to open.

These shots have had very minimal editing, I really like the tones that the in camera ‘L monochromeD’ setting offers.

Now I have no more excuses not to go out wet days, as a whole new wet and windy world awaits to be captured.

Photography from the dark side

With autumn stepping into Summer’s vacant shoes, I reluctantly bid a fond farewell to those long, light evenings, but welcome the opportunity to capture the colours and moods of one of my favourite seasons of the year.

With woodland and riverside walks high on the agenda, hopes will be high to capture that colourful carpet of fallen leaves before they fade to winter mulch, golden leaves on lichen cloaked rocks teasing us with a show of colour before the barren winter months to come.

It is also at this time of year that I try to embrace the inevitable darker evenings, by honing my favourite photographic genre, low light and night time photography.

Emerging from summer photography mode into the discipline of low light work, my skills area little ring rusty, it is time to re-hone the skills with a couple hours night shooting around Exeter.

With me, I have my Olympus EM5 MKII with a recent new addition, the 17mm F1.2 Pro lens, with the EM5’s image stabilization and the wide aperture, I want to see how this combo performs with hand held shots.

As usual, the Ricoh GR3 tags along, small enough to fit in a pocket, it is a great little camera to stand on some of the street furniture, that act as a substitute tripod.

No night time foray is complete without the obligatory traffic trail shots, I do my duty with the ricoh perched on top of a metal pavement bollard, a passing bus giving a nice abstract look to the scene.

The olympus with the 17mm perform admirably too, my first shoot with this lens, so experimenting aplenty here.

I have deliberately chosen a less busy Thursday night for tonight’s foray, tomorrow will see more looking to start the weekend, I am happy in an emptier city.





With a little of the ring rust shaken off, I have a couple of ideas for some night time photography projects in the coming months, after all, I may as well take full advantage of the longer hours of darkness.

Sunrise with the GRIII

It’s another early Saturday morning, I am on my way to greet the morning sunrise at Teignmouth, a little further down the coast from last weeks jaunt.

Once again, I have come armed with the GRIII, this little powerhouse of a camera is such a joy to use, the image quality is just superb from its fixed 28mm equivalent lens.

The GRIII is a favourite amongst street photographers, its compact size and silent shutter are perfect for the genre, however, it it is pretty darned good at landscapes as well!

Another recent addition to my photographic arsenal since getting the GRIII is the Nisi filter kit, a specially developed mini filter kit for the GR, consisting of the following :

  1. Adaptor Ricoh GR3
  2. 3 Stop Medium GND (0.9)
  3. 3 Stop Soft GND (0.9)
  4. ND8 (0.9) 3 Stop
  5. ND64 (1.8) 6 Stop

Nisi filter kit




Mini Tripod – ideal for travelling as light as I can

With my filter kit and mini tripod, I am able to travel with minimal weight, while being able to shoot long exposure scenes when I require, a set up I am enjoying more and more.




I have been asked if I miss not having a viewfinder, in honesty, it takes a little getting used to but it is the perfect way to compose long exposure compositions.

My walk takes me into Dawlish, where I decide to grab a cup of tea and a bite to eat, with the day already warming up and the local beaches filling with holiday makers, I decide to catch the next train back to Exeter, I have got what I came for, so I am happy to move on.

Just half an hour later, I am back in Exeter, Saturday shoppers are out in force, a chance for some post lockdown street photography.

Again, the GR excels, the compact nature of the camera does not concern those I pass, using the 2m snap focus to full effect.

As I have become more accustomed to the GRIII, I have slowly customised it more to my liking, it is possible to save various custom settings into 3 user settings accessible on the mode dial, one of which I have saved as ‘street’ settings, the second, I have a 1:1 square aspect ratio, shooting Jpegs, I really like the built in mono and the positive film preset , the third I have yet to decide upon.

While my current set up is working well for me, I would be interested to see other people’s favourite set ups, to see how others like to shoot on days out.

Minimal gear

It has taken a long time but I have finally decided to minimize my gear choices on days out, carrying a bag of lenses and other gear has become less appealing, shooting with what I have, has become more fun.

On today’s trip to Dawlish, I took my trusty 100f and a recently acquired Ricoh GRIII, a fixed 18mm (28 mm equivalent in full frame terms) camera that boasts amazing image quality in a small form factor.

The GRIII is a favourite with street photographers but is perfect in my quest for minimal gear on days out

The lack of built in viewfinder takes a little getting used to but this little beast is a joy to use.

I mentioned that I also took my 100f today, but I barely used it, for two reasons.
One reason being that I was keen to get used to the controls of the Ricoh, the second being that I had forgotten to replace the memory card I had used for my first few test shots with it yesterday evening.
The GRIII has 2gb of internal memory storage, around 40-50 images in RAW format, I know this because I used its full allocation, then had to pilfer the card from my 100f!
Looking through the menu, I was able to copy the internal memory images to the now installed SD card, my schoolboy error had been rectified.

Getting to Dawlish Warren just after 10am, the beach was already filling with those that wanted a day by the sea, I was happy to stay for just a couple hours to get some much wanted sea air and to get more accustomed to the GR.


It will take a while to customise the controls of the GR to my liking and the GR gives plenty of scope for doing so but if this first batch of images is anything to go by, then the GR will be my ideal minimal gear set up

No excuses

I was watching a youtube photography channel earlier this week, the location was an area of outstanding beauty, the sun was out, yet the first words after the intro were ‘ The sky is too blue!’

I too have been out on Dartmoor on a beautiful sunny day, happily taking in the vast openness but wishing for cloud, yet on those grey rainy days, I wish for sun, essentially photographers are never happy!

In the eternal search for perfect light, we will always find something that isn’t quite right but the last couple of days have provided skies full of character with an ever changing light that gave plenty of opportunity for image making, today there would be no excuses.

While travel on public transport for photography trips is still out of the question, I am taking full advantage of the opportunity for unlimited exercise by taking walks around Exeter’s picturesque quayside and river walks, pictures I have taken a few hundred times before but with a renewed appreciation of what is on my doorstep.




For the record, all images were taken with a recently adopted Canon 5d Mark 1 with canon 20-35mm lens, there is something about using older camera gear I really like.

Fuji Jpegs

I have been using Fuji cameras on and off for the last seven or eight years, I say on and off because I have had a tendency to chop and change gear, not because I think I will become a better photographer, more because I have simply enjoyed trying different cameras.

I have come full circle in the last couple of years, there is just something about these cameras that has drawn me back to the Fuji family, a combination of the physical the dials, a range of superb lenses and excellent image quality are of course a factor but for me, they are cameras that you want to pick up on days out.

Using my X100f for a whole year for a recent project, changed my photographic ethos, I was a long time member of the ‘shoot raw only’ club, until I began to experiment with the well regarded ‘film’ simulations, I will now happily shoot Jpeg only for my personal photography, especially as I feel less inclined to sit at a computer for hours clicking on sliders.

Yesterday was one of those JPEG days, knowing that I do not have a Raw image to fall back on, keeps me focussed on getting the exposure right first time, a discipline that I had become complacent with, given how forgiving Raw files can be.

A selection from yesterday, with minor cropping and straightening in capture 1, with a vignette added to the daisy image.


Lockdown photo walks

It’s five am, the first morning of the second three week lockdown, but my intention is to make full use of my exercise walk today.

With an early morning chill in the air, I am hoping to capture the mist on the River, before the sun’s rays reach out to melt its ethereal shroud.

My relatively short walk to the river path is barely interrupted by the roar of normal weekday traffic, in the words of the Morrissey song, ‘Every day is like Sunday’.
On reaching the footpath, the nearby playing fields have a coating of low cloud suspended above the grass, floating islands of mist, with a subtle pink tinge in the sky above, the first image of the day is bagged.

As the sun begins its dawn ascent, hues of orange light the underbelly of the clouds above with its fiery palette.
Watching the sun rise has always been a pleasure and a privilege I have treasured, under current circumstances, my joy in watching the day unfold is seen with a new appreciation.

The River has dropped somewhat from my last walk here in early February, it is possible to take picture from the waters edge in places, taking shots from previously inaccessible viewpoints.

From my new vantage point, I watch the mist slowly fade in the embrace of the sun’s warmth but not before I have a few more photos in the bank.

From these all too brief moments of perfect solitude, I am joined along the path by the few early morning runners, each of us respecting the other’s space, while exchanging polite ‘Good mornings’ ‘and thank you’s’.

My route home takes me back towards the quayside of the River Exe, the water lies still, with reflections of the riverside residences providing more camera fodder for yours truly.

 

Being creative

If this were a normal Easter weekend, I would look forward to a long walk at dawn to capture the sunrise, as I have done over the last few years, however, 2020 is far from a normal year.

With lockdown approaching its third week, I have resisted the temptation to take a camera with me on my daily walk, but have thought of alternative ways of being creative with the camera, while staying at home.

In one of my recent decluttering exercises, I found a few odds and sods that may enable me to make a rudimentary light box for some close up photography, that little seed of an idea was put into practice today, where I fashioned my basic cube from some sturdy packaging, and made good use of the black fabric of an old sports hold allĀ  to make a simple backdrop for inside the box, with other coloured fabrics bought cheaply online.

For the light source, I have used two LED strips that were being thrown away, part of another light box that had broken but the LED’s still worked.

While I was happy with my fabric background, for the dandelion shots, I used the screen of a long since dead tablet, the glass offering a certain amount of reflection.

Above are the results of an hour of finding things from around the house and garden, no doubt there will be more to come.

From the archives

This is the sort of blog I would normally write during those dark winter days, a reminiscence of previous outings, a looking forward to the seasons to come, this however, could be the first of many ‘staying home’ entries during the unwelcome presence of the Covid – 19 virus.

I am using this time to catch up on those jobs that have been left for too long on the bottom rung of the task ladder, to read that book I bought last year and to have another attempt at sorting through terabytes of images taken over the last 5 years.

It was while I going through this process, a trip to Buckfastleigh steam railway, jumped out as being one of my best days out in the last 2 years.
It was not the most inspiring of days in terms of weather, a grey misty day with drizzle hanging in the air, but a trip to a steam railway could offer something out of seemingly nothing, in the back of my mind, I had the thoughts of some ‘film noir’ style images to create some interest.

Steam railways are places I could spend hours exploring, with platforms often furnished with vintage luggage trucks, old suitcases and coloured signs of the products of the time.
Old rolling stock often lies abandoned on sidings, not always accessible to the public but Buckfastleigh has little that is not accessible.

I enjoy the chats I have with the many volunteers that help keep these railways open, their love of keeping the steam heritage alive is evident, one of the reasons for my frequent visits here.

For those that are interested, these were taken with a Lumix G80 m43 camera with 25mm 1.4 lens (50mm in full frame terms)

When time allows, there will be many places to revisit, in the meantime, I had better crack on with the sorting ….